Pro-Ernst dark money group may get sued over undisclosed finances

UPDATE: Campaign Legal Center filed suit against Iowa Values on February 12. Original post follows.

A group formed to support U.S. Senator Joni Ernst’s re-election may face a lawsuit over its ongoing failure to disclose its fundraising and spending.

Iowa Values, created as a 501(c)4 political nonprofit, has not registered with the Federal Election Commission. The FEC has yet to act on a complaint filed more than a year ago, seeking to bring the group into compliance with campaign finance law.

The Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit organization supporting public access to the political process, has asked a U.S. District Court in Washington, DC to find that the FEC failed to comply with a court order to address the Iowa Values matter. If the court does so, federal law allows the center “to sue Iowa Values directly” to force disclosure of its financial activity. That option is on the table, an attorney for the center told Bleeding Heartland on February 8.

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The perils of outside money

Author’s Note from Strong Island Hawk: “Outside money” typically refers to super-PACs and dark money groups. “Independent expenditure only committees,” more commonly known as super-PACs, have no limits on contributions from individuals but are prohibited from donating to candidates or “coordinating” with them on strategy or messaging. “Dark money” groups are essentially charities organized under 501(c)(4) of the IRS code and are not required to publicly disclose their donors. These “social welfare” groups can spend certain amounts of their annual budget on political activity. See Issue One’s explainer.

Iowa Democrats are once again trying to figure out what went wrong after another election night full of defeats, including a loss for Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield. Greenfield was a weak candidate: she was yet another wealthy Des Moines real estate developer who was a political novice with no compelling message or agenda. And she was neither an electric speaker nor a sharp debater. But Iowans were never really given a choice.

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The Joni Ernst/Chuck Grassley combo in Iowa's U.S. Senate races

Herb Strentz explores rhetoric from Iowa’s 2014 and 2020 U.S. Senate campaigns and finds parallels between our two Republican senators. -promoted by Laura Belin

Labor Day in even-numbered years usually brings more public interest in politics and the final stage of hopeful campaigns for Congress or the presidency.

This time around, many are driven by dread — dread of elections past, and, oh yeah, fears for the one coming on November 3.

Small wonder, given what “We the people” have inflicted upon ourselves.

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Ernst's words don't match actions on COVID-19 relief for fossil fuels industry

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst told members of the Iowa Farmers Union in June that she’d prefer for fossil fuel companies not to be eligible for COVID-19 relief funds.

However, months earlier she was among only two farm state senators to sign a letter aimed at ensuring that oil, gas, and coal companies would have access to federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

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